The heirloom tomatoes are coming in at Pepper Place and I’m a huge fan. We buy them every chance we can get. Personally, I can eat them like an apple, but this recipe is the perfect marriage of those tomatoes with some fresh Gulf shrimp!
3# assorted tomatoes, sliced (heirlooms are best, such as Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak, Brandywine, etc but any good southern ripe tomato will do)
1/3 cup celery sliced thin on the bias (diagonal)
1/2 cup firmly packed celery leaves (celery leaves are great for seasoning dishes and for garnishes, so don’t automatically toss them like many people do
Using a chilled serving platter, arrange the sliced tomatoes and celery. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Drizzle with the Bloody Mary Vinaigrette (recipe below) and spoon the pickled shrimp over the top (also below). Top with the celery leaves and garnish with pickled okra or pickled green beans. You can even add some crumbled Feta if you’d like!
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup spicy Bloody Mary mix (like Zing Zang)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
1 tsp hot sauce
3/4 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Combine ingredients in a bottle with a lid, shake and chill.
To make pickled shrimp:
In a zip top freezer bag (gallon size), add 1 pound of medium-sized peeled fresh shrimp. To the bag, add the following ingredients, then place the bag in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours but the longer you leave it in, the better. After 6 hours the shrimp will get rubbery, so 2-6 hours is the processing time.
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp each chopped fresh dill and flat leaf parsley
About this time of year, anyone with a back yard garden is looking for creative ideas to use up the abundance of zucchini, fresh tomatoes and herbs. Here’s a wonderful Saturday morning recipe for breakfast casserole, loaded with color straight from the back yard and a perfect recipe for a brunch. This makes for 12 servings, so cut it down as needed for a smaller family.
1 12oz package of bacon, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
6 eggs lightly beaten
4 cups frozen hashbrown potatoes, thawed
2 fresh zucchini, grated
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
In a saute pan, cook the bacon and onion until the onion is tender and the bacon has browned.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the hashbrown potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes and toss well. Add the bacon and onions along with the pan drippings to the potato-vegetable mixture, then mix in the cheeses, Tabasco, beaten eggs and the fresh basil.
Spoon mixture into a 9″x13″ glass baking dish sprayed lightly with PAM. At this point I usually salt and pepper the top of the casserole as well.
Bake in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes, until casserole has “set” and is just beginning to brown.
Serves 12 but can easily be cut down to 6 or 4 by equally dividing the ingredients.
Here’s a great recipe using some of the fresh vegetables available these days! Nothing like the taste of roasted corn and fresh heirloom tomatoes to scream SUMMER!
3 tbsp champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tsp sea salt
4 ears of fresh corn in husks
1 1/4 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 10oz container of small heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
In a glass mixing boil, whisk together the vinegar and garlic. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly to incorporate, then add the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Fill a large bowl with water. Mix in 1 tsp sea salt. Add the corn and soak for 1 hour.
Prepare your barbecue or gas grill (medium-high heat). Drain the corn. Grill the corn in the husks until the outside is very charred and the corn kernels are tender, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes.
Cool the corn. Remove the husks and cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
With the abundance of delicious tomatoes coming to market these days, I decided to dust off an old recipe from my “Secrets of the Chefs” days when I worked for Bruno’s Supermarkets as an in-store personal chef for customers. This was one of the recipes I created that was featured in weekly store promotions and one of the dishes I prepared on Good Day Alabama. It was my take of the traditional Pissaladiere pastry. It’s really quite simple to make and it can be tweaked to your specifications. Although not in this recipe, I will usually brown and crumble some really good Italian sausage on top of the tart if I’m in the mood for meat, but the recipe is wonderful as written. It really showcases the flavors of fresh summer Alabama tomatoes!
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed enough to work with
3 pounds red/purple onions, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jar Kalamata pitted olives, sliced lengthwise
8 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced (or 2 pints grape tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise if making when fresh garden tomatoes aren’t in season)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Sea Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
Sprigs of fresh Thyme
Start by cooking the onions over low heat in the olive oil in a large skillet, until soft (this takes about 30-40 minutes). Be careful to not brown the onions. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the pan and continue cooking until the water from the tomatoes has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large cookie sheet (with sides) with parchment paper.
Working on a lightly floured surface, form the puff pastry sheet into a rectangle the size of your cookie sheet. Work a little of the dough up the sides of the pan to create an edge once it bakes. Dock the dough (pierce the surface all over with a fork if you don’t have a rolling docker).
Put the onion, tomato mixture in the sheet of pastry, smoothing it out to cover the entire surface (but not the sides of course). Sprinkle top with cheese (and cooked meats if so desired). Finish with sprigs of fresh thyme.
Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and cook for 20 minutes more. Tart will puff up as the pastry cooks and will turn golden brown.
Enjoy the tart either warm out of the oven, or at room temperature if you prefer. You can also cut the tart into multiple bite-size pieces and use as an hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.